On September 27th, 1910 following four days of agony, Jorge Chavez, the conqueror of the Alps died. A wake took place in his hospital room at San Biaggio and a funeral chapel was set up. The inhabitants of Domodossola attended the funeral to pay their respects and posthumous tribute to the first man to cross the Alps in a plane. Visitors continued to attend the funeral during the whole of Wednesday, September 28th.
On the following day, Thursday September 29th, the coffin was taken from San Biaggio Hospital to the Parish Church of Domodossola. A large crowd, mostly dressed in black, accompanied the funeral procession, while the bells of the church rang. The coffin was covered with “Edelweiss”, a flower that grows in the highlands of the Alps. During the funeral procession, flower petals were thrown and many flags of Peru and Italy could be seen amongst the mourners. His aunt and his brother, Juan, the local authorities, aviators and friends, followed Chavez’s coffin. On their arrival at the Parish Church of Domodossola, the Italian priest Pietro Tettoni led the prayers. After the religious service, the coffin was taken to the train station and placed in a wagon, destined for Paris, France.
On Saturday, October 1st, 1910, the funeral service took place at the Saint Francis’ Church; many prominent figures attended the service including military, diplomatic and religious authorities and officers as well as a large crowd of people.
Amongst these was the former president of Peru, Mr. Jose Pardo y Barreda, accompanied by representatives from the diplomatic and consular offices. Three Ministers of State of the French government also attended the burial on behalf of France.
The funeral procession departed from Saint Francis’ Church, towards the Pere Lachaise cemetery, in Paris, where Jorge Chavez was buried in the Chavez family tomb, next to his parents’ remains. The Secretary of the Peruvian delegation, Mr. Francisco Garcia Calderón, and Mr. M. León Barthou, representative of the French Air Club made the funeral speeches. Jorge Chavez’ remains were repatriated to Peru, in 1957, 47 years after his death.
All around the world, the death of the pioneer aviator made the headlines. The articles highlighted the courage shown by Jorge Chavez, who had become the first man to fly across the Alps in a heavier-than-air flying machine. By crossing the great Alps mountain range in a fragile monoplane, he conquered the dangerous rocky gullies and defeated the swirling winds.
In Peru, there was great sorrow at the loss of the young aviator who honored his distant home country. The Peruvian Chambers of Congress paid tribute to the hero of the Alps, and churches throughout Lima held funeral services in memoriam of Jorge Chavez Dartnell.
Peruvian newspapers transcribed the telegraph communications that arrived, informing readers about the heroic feat achieved by Chavez, his accident, his subsequent wounds, his agony and finally, his death.
Text of the Funeral Prayer and Orbituary Speech
- Remarks by the Italian priest Reverend Pietro Tettoni who delivered a heartfelt eulogy at the Collegiate Church of Domodossola. (in spanish)
- The obituary speech, on behalf of the Government of Peru and the delegation of Peru in France, was made by "Don Francisco Garcia Calderon in the cemetery of Paris. He then took the floor on behalf of the Aero Club of France, Mr. Don M. Leon Barthou. (in spanish)
Multimedia Archive: Agony, death and funerals of the conqueror of the Alps